According to the International Testing Agency (ITA), Kamila Valieva, a 15-year-old Russian tipped to win her country’s third consecutive Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating, tested positive for drugs on Feb. 8.
On Wednesday, Feb. 9, the Russian daily RBC said Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, a metabolite prescribed to treat angina and dizziness but banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because it can enhance blood flow and aid increase endurance.
According to ITA, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) removed the suspension later that evening. However, the Russian agency claimed it had immediately launched a probe into Valieva’s “staff” to establish what role others, if any, played in the case.
Despite the positive drug test, Kamila Valieva remained on the practice field on Thursday, Feb. 10, getting ready for the competition.
Katarina Witt, an Olympic champion, showed her support for Valieva on her Facebook page: “The responsible adults should be banned from the sport forever! What they knowingly did to her, if true, cannot be surpassed in inhumanity and makes my athlete’s heart cry infinitely.”
On Friday, Feb. 11, former American skater Adam Rippon, who is now a coach, tweeted, “This entire situation is heartbreaking. This young girl is just 15. She’s a minor. The adults around her have completely failed her. They’ve put her in this awful situation and should be punished.”
Russian athletes are in Beijing competing as ROC, short for the Russian Olympic Committee, after being banned because of a massive state-sponsored doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
ITA said, “The IOC will exercise its right to appeal and not wait for the reasoned decision by RUSADA because a decision is needed before the next competition. The athlete is due to participate in Women Single Skating, on Feb. 15.”